Time spent with a Legend

If you’re going to name a kayak (or anything else for that matter) a “Legend”, it better live up to the hype…
In this case, the “Legend” is a British-style skeg sea kayak, designed by paddling guru Nigel Foster, and built in Chemainus, British Columbia by Seaward Kayaks.
Sitting Pretty

Custom Nigel Foster on the river

My own personal preferences lean towards this sort of hard chine, skeg performance style of kayak, so the Legend is right up my alley. I was warned to expect the boat would feel “tippy” at first, but my initial impression was a much more comfortable, predictable stability. Keep in mind I’m using boats like the Seaward Quantum, Boreal Design Baffin and Current Designs Sirocco for comparison….The Legend is fast, responsive, and tracks like an arrow without the skeg in most conditions. It’s 17′-10″ length and 21″ beam guarantee speed. The hard chine, which extends right from bow to stern, provides ample initial stability, and incredible secondary stability when the going gets rough. I’ve had the Legend surfing on Lake Erie in 5 foot waves and it was totally intuitive and dependable.The Seaward build is second to none, and compliments the excellence of Nigel’s designs. The Foster series kayaks differ from the standard Seaward build when it comes to the seats and hatch covers. The Foster kayaks all have a fibreglass seat pan and touring backband, whereas the Seaward boats use a padded thermoformed plastic seat with an adjustable-height seat back. I’ve always been the most comfortable in backband seats, but that is entirely personal preference. The Legend has Valley rubber hatches, a choice that Nigel himself insists on, so I’m told. Seaward kayaks are built standard with a composite hard hatch cover married to a neoprene seal.  Both systems have their merits. If you like to play with colours, Seaward supplies their hatch covers in any of their 19 available fibreglass colours, the Valley covers only come in black.
Nigel Foster Legend with Mohawk Island Lighthouse

Nigel Foster Legend with Mohawk Island Lighthouse in the background

 Seaward builds their kayaks to be paddled, not pampered! Sure, their typical fibreglass layup weighs a bit more than the competition, but every ounce of material is there to make sure you have a kayak that will last a lifetime.
People often ask if we “really paddle fibreglass kayaks on the Grand River?” I say “Absolutely!” and “Why not?”

To give you an idea of the storage volume of the Legend, it was the boat of choice for Nigel and partner Kristin Nelson for their 1100 km, 5-month expedition around Northern Labrador in 2004. An almost entirely wilderness route, no places to resupply forced the duo to pack everything they would need for the entire journey into the Legend’s available 188 litres . You and I may never need that kind of packing capacity, but it’s good to know that a fast, agile kayak like the Legend can still pack in the gear with the best of the North American “big” touring boats which tend to sacrifice performance for volume. The Legend doesn’t compromise. Storage is versatile with standard front and rear oval hatches plus a dayhatch. The dayhatch compartment is large enough for anything you might need on a short trip.

Ed and the Legend in front of the Grand Island BBQ

Ed and the Legend in front of the Grand Island BBQ

This particular kayak has a few optional goodies that I really like, starting with the full-length keel guard. This protects the bow, stern and keel line from the worst of the bumps, bruises and scratches in the most common wear areas on the boat. I also installed a Guzzler foot-operated bilge pump to the front bulkhead. Great hands-free way to get that cockpit emptied out while keeping your sprayskirt in place and paddle in the water when you’re playing in the wind and waves.I added the Brunton P70 deck-mounted compass to the existing recess in the front deck. Lastly, I added some additional deck rigging, perimiter lines, and a couple of custom graphics just play up the retro look of the solid white deck and hull with the red accents.
The Legend will suit lots of paddlers and for those looking for something a little smaller or a little bigger, Seaward also manufactures the Silhouette and Shadow by Nigel.
The long and short of it, the Legend isn’t for everybody. But, if you’re idea of the perfect kayak is a boat that plays like a smaller kayak, packs like a bigger kayak, surfs like a dream, and is fast and tracks well, then you owe it to yourself to test paddle a Legend.
And they’re not exactly hard on the eyes, either!
Legend on a moody Lake Erie

Nigel Foster Legend on a moody Lake Erie


About Ed Sullivan

I am the owner, instructor, guide, customer service and boat washer at Grand River Kayak in Dunnville, Ontario. I love everything about kayaking, I love the boats, I love the gear, I love teaching people to kayak, I love guiding (and taking) paddling trips! I'm a photographer, hiker, camper and general outdoor enthusiast. In addition to being a Paddle Canada certified kayak instructor, I also have my Wilderness First Aid Certificate and I'm a PADI Certified Open Water Scuba Diver. My favourite destination is Mexico's Mayan Riviera, especially Playa Del Carmen. Amongst my other interests I include writing blogs and tasting tequila! Our business, Grand River Kayak, is a small, family-owned business. My wife, Tanya and my two daughters Kaelan (12) and Emiliana (7) are also active kayakers. The best thing about kayaking is that it hepls me avoid having to get a real job!
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2 Responses to Time spent with a Legend

  1. Aaron says:

    Excellent article Ed! Having paddled with Ed many times (as well as taken 3 of the 4 pictures above on our various adventures) I can definitely second the Legend’s capabilities. I’ve watched Ed perform just about every type of turn, brace, roll and rescue in that boat, and its performance is about as text-book as they come. On a rough Lake Erie paddle, the Legend ploughed through 5 to 6 foot swells and tracked beautifully. I really learned on that trip just how useful a foot pump can be as well. 😉

    On the Seaward commentary – again, Ed is bang-on – they are solid, reliable boats which are masterfully crafted. As Ed mentions, their fibreglass boats tend to be heavier than others, but trust me – this is GOOD! Once in the water, the extra few pounds are irrelevant, but what IS relevant is their strength. You don’t have to be a timid paddler with a Seaward boat.

    Maybe a last bit of commentary I can add in addition to what Ed mentioned is about the British design in general – I love it! It’s as at home tackling rough conditions as calm, and the bow-like stern allows for fast and easy reverse paddles. Having a skeg also helps with tracking straight, especially in the wind, but good long boats like the Legend track pretty darn straight even without the skeg deployed.

    Anyway – totally agreed – the Legend is a boat the certainly fits the name.

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